Skincare Myths Debunked

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Can You Use a Body Lotion on Your Face?

Can you use body lotion on your face?. Dan Dalton for Getty

In this slideshow, I discuss the biggest beauty myths out there regarding skincare. Can chocolate trigger your acne? Does shaving your body hair make it grow back coarser? You know, all that stuff your mom told you that may or not be true.

Let's start with body lotion. Is it a myth that you shouldn't use it on your face?

Turns out that while you can use a facial moisturizer on your body, you shouldn't use a body lotion on your face, unless you need it in a pinch and all you have in the house is body lotion.

Lotion formulated for the body can be drying or can irritate the more sensitive skin on your face. Your body's skin is thicker and tougher than the skin on your face so companies can get away with putting fragrances and cheaper ingredients in a body lotion.

  • My Best Body Moisturizer Tips
  • 14 Best Facial Moisturizers for Every Skin Type

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Does Chocolate Cause Acne?

Can chocolate cause acne?. Medioimages/Photodisc

One of the biggest beauty myths is that chocolate (and fried food) can cause acne. Extensive research shows this is simply not true. It may actually be the dairy in milk chocolate that can exacerbate acne, according to Debra Jaliman, M.D., author of "Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist" (buy it from Amazon).

"We don't know why, but all dairy really flares acne," said Jaliman in an article featured on the Glo Website. The article goes on to state that junk food (think donuts, pizza and chips) can also cause acne flare-ups. "High-glycemic foods make your insulin levels jump, which affects skin like another big hormonal level change: PMS," said Jaliman.

Bottom line: if you already have a pimple problem, try to maintain a healthy diet and keep in mind that hormones, overactive oil glands, heredity and dead skin cells that lodge in skin pores are the main causes of acne, according to the Acne Resource Center.

Check out my list of the Best Products for Acne-Prone Skin

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Myth or Fact: Are Organic or Natural Products Better for Skin?

Domino Magazine

Not always. While organic foods are good for your body, there isn't sufficient evidence that organic beauty products are better for your skin. In fact, many organic skin care products have a short shelf life and can harm skin if the product is expired. Other organic products are made from fruits which can irritate skin, other products can cause allergies.

The industry isn't properly regulated yet, so read the labels carefully. A bottle marked "organic" must contain 95 percent organic ingredients, but those marked "natural" or "made with organic ingredients" may still contain the bad stuff. Do your research and find the companies that really do an amazing job of making products that are truly eco-friendly.

That said, I'm a huge believer in using products that have not been tested on animals and that are eco-friendly. I've done a ton of research to find products that you can feel good about buying. I list them in 10 Best Organic Products for Your Skin.

In the meantime, don't miss Organic Beauty: 20 Things You Need to Know.

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Should Concealer Be Lighter Than Your Skin Tone?

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Don't buy concealer that's a shade or two lighter than your skin tone or you may end up resembling a raccoon. To properly conceal dark circles, pick a concealer that's yellow-based, and better yet, try out concealers at Sephora or a department store counter where you can test drive a product on your dark circles before you buy. (Skip the wrist tests, too).

Looking gorgeous starts with prepping your face correctly. Everything I know about concealer, foundation and more is in this awesome article, 20 Makeup Tips for Gorgeous Skin.

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Does Shaving Hair on Your Legs Make It Grow Back Thicker?

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I can't tell you how many times I've heard over the years a mother tell her daughter, "Don't start shaving your legs or the hair will grow back thicker!" It seems this is an excuse mothers give their daughters to put off growing up for a little bit, but the truth is, your hair does NOT grow back thicker when you shave it.

It just seems that way because when you shave a hair, you are basically cutting it off at it's thickest part. When it grows back in, it may feel coarse. But no worries, the hairs on our bodies are constantly falling out and getting replaced and a new hair will grow in with a point and feel all downy again.

Everything I know about shaving, I've included in this comprehensive article, Top 10 Shaving Tips.

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Is It Unsanitary to Use His Razor?

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You're out of deodorant, is it bad to use his? And is it unsanitary to use a guy's razor? If you asked my Cousin Cat, the answer would be yes. She read somewhere that it's unsanitary to share razors and deodorant. But the fact is you can go ahead and raid his bathroom cabinet if you're in a pinch.

Antiperspirants and deodorants contain the same ingredients for both men and women, the difference is in the fragrance. If you don't mind smelling like a pine tree, then swipe away.

As for his used razor, it's generally better to use your own because a dull razor can cause nicks. In a pinch, go ahead and borrow his razor; it's not going to give you a disease (sorry Cousin Cat).

Other things to consider about his products: Women's shaving creams tend to be heavier, but there's no reason not to use a guy's cheaper shaving cream to shave your legs. As for cleansers formulated for him? These are OK for you, but many are created to prepare skin for shaving and these ingredients could dry out your skin.

Now should you use his toothbrush in a pinch? Well, I'll leave that decision up to you. You do kiss the guy, after all.

I was surprised to learn after I became a beauty editor that not all hair removal is created equal. Some methods work better on parts of your body than others. Find out what I mean in When Should You Shave, Wax, Laser or Tweeze?

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Myth or Fact? Best Way to Spritz Perfume: Spray First, Then Walk Into the Mist

Jeffrey Hamilton // Getty Images

For years, I have sprayed perfume into the air, then walked through it, thinking this was the very best way to smell great without smelling like the perfume department at Nordstrom's on December 21.

This way works only if one is naked. Walking into the mist means you're usually coating your clothes with fragrance and not you; plus, the perfume can stain fabric and spraying the perfume into the air means you're missing a lot of it as it evaporates before it hits you. Since fragrance is formulated to work with the heat of your body, it's best to apply perfume to pulse points: wrists, back of the knees, the base of the throat and just behind the earlobes.

Extra tip: Don't rub wrists together, this can break down the molecular structure of perfume.

Read more in How and Where to Apply Perfume to Make It Last Longer

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Myth or Fact? Never, Ever Tweeze Above the Brow

Steve Mason // Getty Images

This is a controversial topic. While I can't stand this beauty myth because all over the world women are walking around with messy brows because they read somewhere one should never, ever tweeze above the brow, many, many beauty experts disagree with me. Some go so far as to advise young women to never touch their brows lest they end up in their 50s with pinstripes for brows.

Bushy, full brows are in at the moment. And yes, plucking can lead to permanent hair loss where those brows once were.

I advise to pluck below and above. Clean up the unrulies between the brows as well. Better yet, pay a professional to tweeze, wax or thread your brows then use the "map" they set to upkeep your brows for a few weeks before heading back.

How To Shape Your Eyebrows

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She Did Your Makeup, Are You Obligated to Buy Everything?

Nina Frenkel // Getty Images

One of my pet peeves about department stores is the hassling that goes on at the makeup counters. I can hardly walk through Henri Bendel's on Fifth Avenue without getting accosted multiple times on my way to the second floor. Salespeople make money on the products they sell, so if they do nab me and give me a free consult, am I obligated to buy?

You are not obligated to pay if you sit down for an impromptu makeup session with a salesperson. And you aren't obligated to buy anything if you are paying for a makeup application. You are, however, expected to buy something if you booked a makeup consult that's free and you were pleased with the results.

Consider how much of the salesperson's time you took. If you asked for a consult and took up a lot of her time asking questions, then you should consider buying something as a courtesy. But if she nabbed you to try a liner or lipstick and you didn't like it, thank her and move on.

Read more in How Not to Get Ripped Off at the Cosmetics Counter.

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Myth or Fact: Baldness Is Inherited From Mom's Side of the Family

Digital Vision // Getty Images

For years I've been patting myself on the back for having a dad with a full head of hair. My thinking was that my sons (if I had them) would inherit my good genes. Trust me, there are plenty of bad genes in my family (cancer! Heart disease! Juvenile diabetes! Alzheimer's!) so I was banking on the full head of hair thing. But turns out the whole baldness-comes-from-the-mother's-side idea is just a myth.

Yes, baldness is inherited, but it's a mix of both parents' genes. And just because someone in the family is bald doesn't mean every kid he has will be. My husband shaves his head because he's balding. His Dad is bald. But he has 2 brothers and one is balding and the other is not. Go figure.

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Can You Prevent Stretch Marks With Lotion?

Nancy Ney // Getty Images

Not really. Although I have spoken to many women who swear by particular lotions or oils to prevent stretch marks, the truth is stretch marks are caused by rapid weight gain or weight loss.

Some women don't get stretch marks because their skin reacts well to expansion. Others get stretch marks because genetically, their skin does not. If your mother has stretch marks from pregnancies or you have stretch marks from your growth period in your youth, then it's likely you'll get them from pregnancy no matter how much oil or lotion you rub every day on your belly. Thanks Mom.

Lotions do decrease itchiness that comes from rapid skin expansion, so go ahead and rub it on your belly if it makes you feel good.

Read more in How Can I Prevent Stretch Marks?

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Those Skin Problems are Because You Aren't Washing Your Skin Enough, Right?

Are You Washing Your Face Enough?. Lifesize for Getty Images

Wrong. You don't have acne or rosacea or scars from pimples or even blackheads because you need to wash your skin more. In fact, over-cleansing your skin can be what's causing your problem in the first place. It's understandable that people think their pimples or blackheads are caused by dirty pores, and they feel they need to combat this with lots of cleansing, scrubs and over-the-counter acne remedies. The truth is, the acne is caused by bacteria, and you can actually make the problem worse by over-cleansing the skin.

For more great tips, see Are You "Overcleansing" Your Skin?

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8 Glasses of Water: Is It Necessary for Good Skin?

should-you-drink-8-glasses-of-water.jpg
Digital Vision for Getty Images

Does drinking 8 glasses of water a day keep your skin moist?

No. Despite years of having this drummed into our heads, science and studies show this is not true.

However, it absolutely does not mean drinking a lot of water a day isn't good for you. It is, of course, good for your insides, keeping you hydrated and away from sugary soft drinks that are full of empty calories and too much sugar.

But your skin? Not so much.

The outermost layer of skin does not absorb water since it is made up of dead skin cells. Moisture level of skin is not determined by internal factors, but rather external ones, such as cold or hot air, dry heat and by the number of oil-producing glands you have.  

If you want to hydrate your skin, exfoliate it weekly with a body scrub made of sugar and oil (I have a great recipe that costs pennies to make), then apply a rich moisturizer while skin is still damp.